One would think that a basketball player who averaged 31 points a game in his senior year would be well-known. But such isn't the case with Keely Brooks, a 5-9 off-guard for Workman High School in Industry.
On a team that finished with a 6-16 record (5-10 in the Valley Vista League), Brooks was the leading scorer, and he also finished atop the CIF scoring list, ahead of such better-known players as Darrick Martin of St. Anthony, Steve Ward of Calabasas and Jason Matthews of St. Monica.
In his final game, Workman lost to Northview, 68-66. Brooks scored 39.
As a junior, Brooks tied for 19th in the CIF, averaging 21.7 points. His Lobos went 1-19.
It's obvious that Brooks is good, but until this year he was never mentioned as one of the CIF's top players.
"That's because guys who play on 1-19 teams usually don't receive much publicity," said Rick Cook, the first-year Workman coach from West Virginia. "It's a shame for Keely that he's had to go through this. There have been a lot of problems here, from the coaching on down, and Keely never got the guidance that could have made him into an excellent, not just a good, basketball player.
"I wish I would have had him all four years. He'd be in pretty good shape right now."
Instead, Brooks is looking at the possibility of never playing college basketball. His grades, as well as his height, are holding him back, Cook said. Cook said Brooks would have to go to a junior college to improve his grades, as well as work on the only real weakness he has on the floor: game knowledge.
How can a player who scored 50 points against Covina (a school record), more than 40 points several times and was consistently in the 30s, not be considered a complete player??
"There were problems . . . in the past," said Brooks, a quiet 17-year-old. "Coach (Tim) Stimpfel wasn't into discipline like Coach Cook is. He'd let us just run around the floor and do what we wanted. Basically, I was expected to just shoot the ball, and the other guys just did whatever."
Brooks developed his style on the playgrounds where he was mostly a rebounder. He said he wasn't good when he started, but after finishing up on an elementary school team he knew he had "a little talent."
But here the story sours.
"Two things have hurt Keely," Cook said. "He hasn't played in enough summer camps to refine his talent, and he plays on a poor team in a poor league. He hasn't played against the talent to help him improve. And he hasn't been well coached.
"He doesn't have enough knowledge of the game to play Division I basketball. But he has come a long way. This is the first year he's ever been asked to pass the ball."
Added Delbert Santos, a senior point guard at Workman: "He's awesome. I'm jealous of him in a sense because I don't have the God-given ability he has. I dream I was in his position."
But, Santos said, "there's a jealousy on the team because of Keely. People see Keely doing things, and they wonder why they're not doing them. It's basically one or two other players, but it has hurt us."
Brooks doesn't see a problem.
"I think the guys accept it," he said. "Off the court, we go to the playgrounds together. They accept the fact that I'm No. 1. They don't mind.
"If I played with better people, it would probably make me a better player. Most of the guys are sophomores and they're not good enough to go one-on-one against me in practice."
Brooks said there's no pressure to be the team leader, that he plays basketball strictly for fun. Although he admitted that winning would be nice, he said he's happy with the way things have turned out.
Cook, however, is totally frustrated by the whole situation.
"In West Virginia, my teams went 242-31 in 10 years, and I've already lost 15 this year," he said. "That's tough for a coach. It's nice having the leading scorer, but I'd gladly trade him for three or four good players.
"We have to get Keely a certain number of shots just to have a chance to be in a game. He's so dominant out there. His transition game is incredible. He can score off the pass, on the run, from a dribble, any way.
"Somewhere in life, someone should have recognized his talent and done something with it. He doesn't have good grades, but he's very intelligent. Someone should have used basketball as a whip to improve his grades. It's a shame he wasn't taken under someone's wing."
Brooks' high school days are over, and maybe his basketball career. If he gets a college scholarship offer, he'll take it.
If not, he and many others may only wonder: What if . . . .